Justins World

Scooting Taroko

A couple of days in Hualien have passed quickly and I’m back on the train, for a 4 hour journey to Kaohsiung. A city whose name remains unpronounceable by me for now (I also think they use two dialects here, Mandarin and Hokkein and they both pronouce this city very differently). The train is also a good time to write about Taroko Gorge NP, which is what everyone who visits Hualien is there to do. A winding marble gorge that combines the wonders of nature and the marvels of engineering together.

What better way to see the gorge that in a 50 seat tour bus….. I jest, of course, I rented a scooter for a whopping $25AUD for the day. Petrol ended up costing about $1.50 a litre and I only used a few litres of fuel. So a lot cheaper than a tour without the hassles of the tour and being the only english speaker on the tour. The ride north of Hualien was along a main road, but the Taiwanese are big on safety. Firstly there is a cycle/scooter lane. Scooters under 250CC and bicycles can use the lane. Secondly, scooters have special rules to do a left hand turn (they drive on the right here). Firstly on green you drive straight across the road where a little box is and stop there facing left, so when the lights change you go straight again, basically a slower version of the Melbourne hook turn.

Eternal Springs shrine

The roads in this gorge get a little confusing as there are a lot of one way roads and single lane roads, thankfully there is still plenty of room to scoot along the roads, many of them are carved into the side of the cliff face with some newer sections in modern tunnels. My first stop was to see the Eternal Springs shrine. A temple sitting above a waterfall that flows from a spring. There was a suspension bridge involved in visiting this temple so I didn’t go visit. Which was lucky, because my scooter failed to start. I rang the number they gave me and what I must say was one of the most confiusing phone calls ever to explain to someone who doesn’t speak much english, but kind of understood my issue eventually. A man turned up on another scooter and then looked at mine and it started first go. Seriously the battery was definitely going flat. Disaster averted and trip to Taroko saved however. They were very apologetic though even when I returned the scooter that afternoon.

As the road clings to the side of the cliff before burrowing through the gorge, the river continues to carve the gorge out below and there were just so many scenic spots that were really easy to park and take photos with on my scooter. It was such a beautiful place its hard to describe, especially when I found a quiet spot with no one around and watched the river flow along the gorge.

Some of the old disused tunnels are now walking trails. The tunnel of nine turns has since been replaced by a new tunnel through the rock and makes for a great walking trail, with the tunnel more of carved ledge into the rockface along most of the walk, but there were a few dark tunnel sections that popped out to the canyon to provide more amazing views.

I arrived in Tianxiang which is a small town with a police station, some food vendors and of course a 7Eleven. It was aftyer lunchtime for me, but mealtimes have kind of gone out the window here in Taiwan. No one seems to eat at a fixed time during the day. The train serves you a bento box as soon as you board, so that was about 10:30 today! So a pork sausage on a stick was all I needed but I did grab a millet donut with sugar for later. Salt and pepper are apparently also popular seasonings for millet donuts. There was another walk I wanted to do, but three suspensions bridges meant no way was I doing that walk, so I scooted back down the canyon, until I got to the roadworks. Luckily I had the millet donut as the road wasn’t reopening until 3pm. It has a slightly chewy texture, but quite delicious.

waiting for the road to reopen

Taroko gorge is a postcard location and very hard to do it justice with photos, but was definitely worth the hype! I’ve even finished this post while on the train. Still have a good 90 minutes to go as we are almost at the southern tip of Taiwan.

2 thoughts on “Scooting Taroko

  1. noel kemp

    Sounds interesting Justin, especially all those – now – walks, tunnels. It could have been even more difficult, the scooter dying like that. Fancy a Melbournian hook-turn in Taiwan!

  2. Larna

    Amazingly beautiful, cannot wait to visit – your pictures have certainly moved out up the list! It’s funny to me that you weren’t up for a suspension bridge but braved the traffic on a scooter – much more nerve wracking to me!

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